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What are Hardy Saltwater Fish to Buy For a Home Aquarium

If you are just in the midst of starting a beginner saltwater fish tank you will want to ensure the likelihood of success providing your new pet fish a safe and healthy environment to thrive and grow in. one way to ensure success is to select hardy saltwater fish from the beginning.

Hardy fish are also typically the easiest saltwater fish to take care of so that’s a big bonus of starting out this way. Another benefit of starting your marine tank hobby with hardy fish is that they usually cost a bit less than other more delicate breeds.

So maybe you didn’t know that saltwater fish were expensive or maybe you did, if you didn’t maybe do some pricing research on fish costs before you get to far into this hobby. You could always switch over to freshwater tropical fish if you find keeping a marine tank might be too expensive for you.

Before I tell you what I think are the best hardy saltwater fish for a home aquarium there are a couple other things you should consider as well.

  • If you are going to start your tank off with more than one fish I would make sure you educate yourself on whether your selections are compatible or not. I will provide you with this information from my experiences as I can below.
  • If you are starting a brand new aquarium make sure you have gone through cycling the water so your nitrite and nitrate levels are safe. I am just working on an article explaining the Nitrogen cycle which will help you make sure you have all the correct levels in your tank.

If you are on board and ready to learn what my picks are for the best hardy marine fish to start a tank with then let’s get started.

Beautiful Blue Damsel

Damsel Fish

I have always found damsels to be some of the hardiest saltwater fish available to the aquarium hobbyist. They are also some of the lowest priced salt fish you can purchase. Damsels are highly entertaining and can be territorial. It is okay to start your tank off with a couple of these little guys as long as they are similar sizes.

  • If you have one large and one small the large one will pick at the smaller one potentially killing the fish over time.
  • Even though you can start with two Damsels I would recommend buying either just one or more than two.
  • When there are only two they tend to pick at each other and when there are three or more they seem to act differently. It is like they have a school of fish mentality and work together instead of attacking each other.
  • There are different varieties of Damsel fish. My favorite is the Blue Damsel. I have had the most luck with this fish. The Blue Damsel are okay with other fish as long as the other breed of fish are larger.
  • If you are wanting more fish in your tank eventually you should have a very large aquarium if you are housing Damsels and others. Damsels are somewhat territorial.
  • Damsels like to dig around in the sand or gravel you have at the bottom of your tank. They will make little houses digging under objects. So make sure you have some objects your pet Damsels can retreat to so they feel safe.

Clown Fish

The Clown Fish gained a boost in popularity when the movie Nemo came out. The loveable little orange and white fish was loved by millions and millions of aquarium enthusiasts existing and new.

The Clown Fish is a relative of the Damsel family and just happens to be a hardy fish and an affordable fish. There are different varieties of the Clown Fish such as the Percula, Ocellaris, Maroon, Tomato and Clarks. Here are some need to know info about this fish.

  • A Clown Fish does not require an anemone like you see on TV or at public aquariums or the pet store. An Anemone is definitely not a hardy creature and not recommended if you are just starting out.
  • My pick for the best tank friendly Clown Fish variety would be either the Percula or the Ocellaris. The other varieties mentioned can be a bit aggressive at times.
  • These fish are captive bred now just as much as most tropical fish. The captive bred Clown’s are very hardy compared to their Ocean born counterparts.
  • Just like the Damsel a Clown Fish will want to have a spot that it can retreat to. They most likely won’t pick at the bottom substrate like a Damsel. They just want somewhere to feel safe. Make sure you have a hiding place for each fish. I don’t think they really like to share.
  • If you go with Clown Fish I would start with one only or if you want more go for three.
  • If you buy Damsel Fish first and then get a Clown make sure the Clown is as big or slightly bigger than your Damsel.

Goby Fish

Goby Fish are cute little critters that tend to stay on the bottom of your tank and swim walk and crawl over your rocks and structures. They scoot along the bottom effortlessly once in a while shooting up to the top to see what is going on. Here are some things to know about Goby Fish.

  • Most varieties of Goby Fish are very hardy.
  • Some different varieties are yellow, clown, neon, sleeper, pink spotted and there are more.
  • I recommend only getting one Goby. Some breeds of Gobies will attack each other and even when you think you have a passive Goby they turn around and start being aggressive.
  • Gobies are super fun to watch.
  • Make sure to have a couple of hiding places for your Goby.
  • The size of the Goby Fish does not matter compared to the size of the other fish in the tank.
  • Because Gobies are bottom dwellers they help to keep the bottom of the tank clean. They will eat algae as well.

I am only giving you 3 hardy fish to start with and the reason is that you can have a tank with just Clowns, Damsels and a Goby and that would be a beautiful aquarium. All of these fish are characters and have different personalities. I feel that these 3 fish are the easiest marine fish to keep.

Of course there are other hardy marine fish you could select however I really feel based on my own personal experiences that you cannot go wrong with my selections above for a beginner or anyone just wanting fish that are easier to take care of.

If by chance you haven’t set up a tank yet and are wondering what size you should get to keep saltwater fish as pets I would recommend starting with a 50 gallon at minimum. Yes you can get away with a smaller tank let’s say a 30 gallon and if I am being honest I have run a 15 gallon with a few Clown Fish with success.

The problem with a smaller aquarium when you are a beginner and owing marine fish is if something happens with the water like a chemical imbalance that can harm the fish a small tank is less forgiving and you are not experienced enough to notice the problem until it is too late and all of your inhabitants in the tank die.

I know that is not something you want to happen. So if you can afford at least a 50 gallon that is what you should get. If you want a smaller tank do yourself and get a filter that is a bit big for the aquarium and also get test kits.

If you are interested in the best hardy freshwater fish I have an article detailing this which can be found here, Best Hardy Freshwater Fish.  

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